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HUBweek’s Girl Hackathon Draws Milton Girls

Milton students mentored middle- and elementary-school students at HUBweek’s Girl Hackathon, a Boston event that encourages young girls to develop a love of computer programming and coding.

Jessica Wang ’18, Charlotte Moremen ’19, Amaya Sangurima-Jimenez ’19, and Jen Zhao ’19 served as hackathon mentors. It’s not a competition; it’s a chance for girls to explore the possibilities of coding in a collaborative and supportive setting, and to be proud of their creations, says mathematics faculty member Emily Pries.

“The girls from Milton pushed the teams to think about different methods,” says Emily. “They identified the challenges the teams faced and helped them think about where in the code they could find solutions.

“It was a chance for the younger girls to show off. There were some fun glitches that are part of the process in demonstrating what they built,” she adds.

Girls’ interest in programming continues to rise at Milton. This year, a group of Upper School girls are mentoring students in the Middle School, which now teaches coding at all grade levels.

“It’s really exciting to see,” says Emily, who started teaching at Milton this year. “Having coding in the geometry classes is a good way to show what coding actually looks like, which is something creative and collaborative and driven by what you envision, instead of something out of a textbook.”

What’s exciting about girls learning programming at younger ages is that they don’t have any preconceived notions about what the programming world is “supposed” to look like.

“A segment of the programming world explicitly prides itself on being a boys’ club,” she says. “There’s a mindset that they have this secret knowledge, but the reality is that anybody in the world can be a programmer. Anybody.”

HAVING FUN

How does fun figure in your life? Finding joy in the pursuit of an activity, or a craft or a skill, is valuable beyond its short-term pleasure. Play, even when it’s actually hard work, profoundly affects emotional balance, self-esteem, competency and drive. Play is a vital resource for successful people. In this issue, Milton Magazine brings stories about alumni ventures that have been labors of love. An observer might think their work looks like fun. Driven by a particular passion, these alumni end up pursuing creative work that is as challenging as it is rewarding.

We ask Milton students, as well, to describe how they find fun in their busy, committed lives.